Half Price Sunday Million: buba971 swings $183K victory in classic underdog style

This week's special Half Price edition of the Sunday Million was everything you could have expected and more. With a field five times its normal size and a final table lineup that included one former champion and three others who had made it as far as the final table in the past, there was plenty to call this tournament a smashing success regardless of who ended up winning. Then Ukraine's buba971 made it extra-special by living out the kind of underdog story that every poker player dreams about, coming to the final table with less than four big blinds' worth of chips and walking away the winner after a four-way deal.

buba971's timing in pulling off a miraculous comeback couldn't have been much better. Dropping the price for this week's Sunday Million to $107.50 was like waving a magic multiplying wand over the prize pool. The number of entries alone was four times higher than a typical week's tournament, and another 4,026 re-entries put the total prize pool over $2.5 million. They played until the blinds and antes were at 400,000/800,000/80,000 and these nine players remained in contention for the biggest Sunday Million prize in recent memory:

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Seat 1: uWi$hIamDeaD (10,847,134 in chips)
Seat 2: buba971 (3,071,560 in chips)
Seat 3: Mtss7 (23,961,384 in chips)
Seat 4: rrrui (47,507,230 in chips)
Seat 5: ivanbeograd (65,620,010 in chips)
Seat 6: tooozoran1 (8,150,802 in chips)
Seat 7: alweinmann (48,528,783 in chips)
Seat 8: mamalice (24,240,581 in chips)
Seat 9: anjuli777 (19,212,516 in chips)

Almost half the participants at the conclusion of this enormous tournament had been on this stage before. Once the final began, though, that past experience counted for next to nothing. The repeat visitors found their way to the rail first, starting with the table's only past Sunday Million winner, uWi$hIamDeaD.

The German player opened the second hand of the final table from early position, betting all-in for 10.7 million chips with A♦ K♠. buba971 called all-in for 4.7 million with J♣ J♥, and alweinmann came along in the big blind with A♣ 8♠. The jacks had 57-percent equity before the flop and came out the winner after the board fell Q♣ 3♣ Q♠ 3♦ Q♥, giving buba971 queens full of jacks for the 15.3-million-chip main pot. The other two played the board for queens full of treys and split the side pot for 5.9 million apiece. Two hands later uWi$hIamDeaD opened all-in under the gun with 5♦ 5♠; anjuli777 called in the big blind with A♦ 8♥ and made trip eights on the 8♦ J♣ T♥ 3♠ 8♣ board to bust uWi$hIamDeaD in ninth.

All the short stacks who faced elimination for the rest of the hour doubled up, but mamalice didn't fare as well after play resumed at 4:00 a.m. ET following the hourly break. The two-time finalist in the Women's Sunday opened all-in for 17.3 million from middle position, holding 8♥ 8♦. rrrui, who finished ninth in the 2-5-17 Sunday Million, re-shoved for 59 million in the small blind and made a full house with A♥ K♠ to eliminate mamalice in eighth.

Another past Sunday Million finalist fell minutes later. anjuli777, who finished fourth in the 3-5-16 Sunday Million, called for 9.8 million with A♣ T♠ in the big blind after alweinmann tried to steal with J♣ 5♣ in the small. The five on the flop of the 3♥ Q♦ 5♥ 6♦ Q♣ flop was all it took to eliminate anjuli777 in seventh.


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Four hands later it was alweinmann whose fate was sealed despite holding a dominant hand before the flop. tooozoran1 called in the big blind with K♥ 8♥ after the Brazilian opened under the gun for 2 million chips and hit middle pair on the 4♠ 8♠ J♣ flop. tooozoran1 check-called 3 million there and then check-raised all-in for 16.7 million on the K♠ turn. alweinmann called with K♦ Q♠ but missed on the 4♣ river to hit the rail in sixth.

That left just one player with past Sunday Million final table experience - rrrui - and the Brazilian's time was limited. rrrui opened the hand for 2.7 million chips in the cutoff with 9♦ 9♥ and called ivanbeogard's button re-raise to 7.2 million to see the 3♣ K♠ 6♣ flop. rrrui check-called 5.5 million there before making a set on the 9♣ turn, which led to a check and a 44.8-million-chip all-in raise after ivanbeogard's bet. The Serbian player made the call with T♣ 8♣ for the club flush, which dodged a potential full house on the 7♥ river to win the enormous 117-million-chip pot and bust rrrui in fifth.

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All the past finalists were now gone. Besides being Sunday Million final table newcomers, the remaining four players all shared another quality: none of them had re-entered the tournament. They each decided to bottle that good fortune up by making a deal, and after about 15 minutes of back-and-forth they had guaranteed every player at the table at least $44,000 more than the scheduled fourth-place prize. That put an extra $20,000 on the table for the winner and got the action going again.

Mtss7 was the shortest stack but managed to double up twice before ivanbeograd opened on the button with 9♥ 8♣ and tooozoran1 shoved with A♣ 5♣ in the small blind. ivanbeograd made the call for 16 million chips - worth another 10 big blinds now with blinds and antes at 800,000/1,600,000/160,000 - and made a pair of nines on the 9♦ T♥ J♠ 2♣ 6♣ board to eliminate tooozoran1 in third.

Mtss7 had driven a hard bargain in making the deal, squeezing an extra $9,000 out of the other players despite having one of the shorter stacks, and stayed alive much longer than the Greek player's short-stacked status might have suggested at several points earlier in the final table. The end of the line came five minutes after tooozoran1's elimination, though. Mtss7 open-shoved on the hand in question with A♦ K♣ on the button and buba971 called with 9♣ 9♦ in the big blind. Mtss7 looked set for another double-up when the flop came 2♦ A♣ 4♣ and the turn was the 2♥, but the 9♠ river card made a set of nines for buba971 and ended Mtss7's run in third.

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ivanbeograd had an edge of about three big blinds as heads-up play began and immediately went to work on expanding it. The Serbian player set the tone by taking down the first pot with an uncalled bet on the turn of a 5♥ 3♦ Q♣ Q♦ board, and then continued that tone for another six minutes before the crucial pot played out.

ivanbeograd opened with a small raise to 3.36 million on the button and buba971 called, bringing a K♥ T♠ 4♦ flop. buba971 check-called 3.44 million there and another 10 million on the 7♥ before the 5♣ came on the river. This time ivanbeograd led for 24.4 million and buba971 shoved for 88.2 million chips total; ivanbeograd called with K♠ J♦ for top pair, but bub971 took the pot with K♣ 5♠ for two pair, kings and fives.

With 20 big blinds left and A♣ 8♣ in the hole, ivanbeograd re-raised all-in on the next hand after buba971 opened on the button for 4 million chips. buba971 called with K♣ 5♣, the board fell Q♠ T♣ 6♦ 5♠ 6♣, and after just seven minutes of heads-up play, one of the more impressive comebacks in recent Sunday Million memory was complete.

ivanbeograd's good fortune may have run out just shy of a Sunday Million title, but the Serbian still walked away with the largest share of the deal, which exceeded the originally scheduled second-place prize by more than $14,000. The extra cash on the table for the winner was just the cherry on top of a perfect Sunday for buba971, who is likely to remember this day for a very, very long time. Congratulations to both of them, and to the other two who shared in the deal, for outlasting a truly enormous field to write their names into PokerStars history.

6/18/17 Sunday Million ($215 NL Hold'em) results
Entrants: 25,114 (21,088 entries, 4,026 re-entries)
Total prize pool: $2,511,400
Places paid: 4,148

1. buba971 (Ukraine) $183,815.47*
2. ivanbeograd (Serbia) $195,867.24*
3. Mtss7 (Greece) $143,294.24*
4. tooozoran1 (Belgium) $136,445.33*
5. rrrui (Brazil) $65,909.68
6. alweinmann (Brazil) $46,982.76
7. anjuli777 (Germany) $33,491.02
8. mamalice (Germany) $23,873.61
9. uWi$hIamDeaD (Germany) $17,018.25
* - denotes results of a four-way deal that left $20,000 for the winner


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Jason Kirk is a Freelance Contributor to PokerStars Blog.

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